No plans for Florida field hospitals, focus on boosting staff during coronavirus surge

Florida officials say they are focusing on expanding hospital surge capacity rather than building alternate sites to accommodate an overflow of patients due to hurricane season, according to WUSF Public Media

"At this time, mobile field hospitals consisting of tents may not be the best resource to deploy during hurricane season," Florida Division of Emergency Management communications director Jason Mahon told WUSF. "Instead, our primary support strategy is to surge staff into existing facilities — opening up additional capacity in those hospitals."

Statewide, 79 percent of hospital beds and 85 percent of ICU beds were occupied as of July 16, according to data from the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration. 

Although the state's emergency response department is not planning to build field hospitals, questions remain about what the state is planning. State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, MD, did not discuss plans for surge capacity on a call with hospital executives this week. 

Hospital executives pressed Dr. Rivkees for information about alternate sites of care two times during a conference call Tuesday. WUSF reports that Dr. Rivkees only said officials are looking to hospitals for guidance.

"I think the answer to the question is the state does not have a plan at this point for opening up alternate care centers," one South Florida hospital executive said on the call.

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